FEATURE: Eyes down for a full house

As entertainment centres aim to keep both kids and adults happy, including those that don’t fancy or perhaps aren’t up to scrambling round a play tower, Chris Shipley from Leisure Electronics argues the case for bingo…

The key to any family amusement centre is to do exactly what it says on the tin – be a centre that keeps the whole family amused.  The industry has continued to innovate over many years, developing new products to keep the whole family entertained as we all move into a digital world.  However, it’s the reincarnation of a centuries old product that could be the next essential addition to your offer – how many of you have thought about adding bingo into that repertoire?

Bingo has always been a hugely popular and timeless activity but the digitalisation of the game has opened it up to a whole new generation.  Previously the need for volume to generate prize money and the costs and complexity of running the game limited the operation of bingo to large, commercial bingo clubs or as a one-off night in pubs and clubs.

The development of digital bingo now means that the product can be offered in very small venues with just a handful of seats being served a product that is almost totally automated.  The excitement of playing on a tablet rather than dabbing a pile of paper is also broadening the appeal of the game with many bingo operators now claiming that over 80 per cent of bingo stakes are digital rather than paper.

These developments have seen a range of premises beginning to offer bingo or numbers games on top of their core offer.  Bingo (or a variant of it) can now be found in adult gaming centres, casinos, licensed bookmakers, holiday parks, and yes even in family entertainment centres such as the Coral Island in Blackpool and Butlins in Skegness.  The attraction of bingo for the operator is simple – it can drive both footfall and dwell time for your venue, which naturally boosts performance.

Wexel Gaming, the digital sister company of the long established Leisure Electronics business, has quickly capitalised on this trend.  Sean Young, managing director, was quick to see the potential in offering inexpensive tablet solutions to help his customers.

Young explains: “Wexel is growing rapidly by listening closely to customers and understanding their needs.  With space at a premium, Wexel initially delivered tablet based, fruit machine solutions for AGC’s that were looking to maximise machine numbers within a smaller footprint.  We have since developed our tablet solutions further to supply digital bingo in AGC’s, bingo clubs and holiday parks and digital roulette onto cruise ships. 

“We understand the pressures of operating retail premises and so always focus on low cost solutions, both in terms of equipment and running costs.  In addition, as we are small and nimble we can offer a vast range of funding options to meet the needs of the customer from capital purchase, revenue share, rental and anything else that can help our customers deliver their financial objectives.

“The other great thing about providing tablet solutions is that it’s very simple to extend the offer on the same customer end point. So we started offering customers bingo tablets or fruit machine tablets but quickly realised we could offer bingo, fruit machine and roulette on the same tablet providing even greater returns on the initial investment.  The acceptance of digital devices is now so widespread that it has become a mass market solution to almost any problem.”

So what’s clear to all of our readers is that customers will continue to be attracted to handheld digital devices enabling the operator to offer products that were simply too difficult to offer previously.  Bingo…….. it’s the future!

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